Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

In the story “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” the author is unknown, however; this story has many comparisons to its society. Back approximately though the thousand years from 500-1500, the traditional Roman and Greece cultures where set to change. Both civilizations where altered with three very different cultures, these three cultures where known as the Germanic culture, Christianity, and Islam (which didn't play majors roles, but was important none the less). Because there was such a blend of immensely diverse cultural forces, medieval Europe displayed a wide range of values, ideas, and social forms. After it was all said and done what emerged was a very recognizable culture. Because it is the period during which the cultural individuality of the European nations took shape, the middle Ages have always generated both attraction and debate.

In the story “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Gawain is faced with various different issues. As a knight of King Arthurs, he is raised to be chivalrous and brave. The major conflict is mainly Gawain's struggle to decide whether his knightly virtues are more important than his life. With no notice Gawain is put to the test, and being one of the most loyal knights, he had no intention of back down. As the green knight walks in the room and lays out the challenge, Gawain jumps on the opportunity to prove himself a commendable knight. Before he knows that the Green Knight has “supernatural” abilities, Gawain accepts the Green Knight's challenge to an exchange of blows. Once the Green Knight survives the blow, Gawain has a year and a day before he must find the Green Knight to receive the return blow, which will almost surely mean his own death. Once he has found the castle of a host who promises to show him the way to the Green Chapel, he struggles to protect and maintain his knightly virtues while remaining courteous to his host's wife, and he struggles to keep his pacts with the Green Knight and his host, despite his fear of death.

In a way I think that the middle ages are like any other era. The medieval social classes were pretty consistent to what ours is this day and age: lower class, middle class, and upper class. The lower class consisted of the peasants, and homeless. The middle class consisted of those who owned their own homes, and could pay taxes. The upper class was the royal people who lived in the castle, or perhaps a nice manor. In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the focus what mainly on the Sir Gawain who was the nephew and loyal knight of King Arthur.

Between lines 250-490 an example of chivalry is given when Sir Gawain presents an interesting human picture of how a people might react to certain tough situations. However, this is always investigated in relation to an ideal, here the notion of chivalry, or how a medieval knight is supposed to act. According to the ideals of bravery and service to their lord, the knights should have leapt at the chance to give their life for their lord, in battle or in sport. There are several places in the text, such as here, where that ideal seems unachievable, even by a group of knights billed as the greatest ever known. The knights are ashamed because they cannot seem to live up to the ideal they have set before themselves; human nature is perhaps at odds with the ideals of "perfection" which it sets as a standard for itself. Though Gawain has a strong and brave exterior, he is the exact opposite on the inside, while inside he is a loving knight scared of dying. After accepting the challenge and delivering the blow the Green Knight, a feeling of nervousness comes over him when the Green Knight does not die. Sir Gawain tries to hide the fact that he scared and in reality he is not as brave has he or others may have though. This story portrays that no matter what status you may have in your career or life that everyone is human and when put in certain situations will show similar feeling almost the same.

In lines 1-259, the poet is building Sir Gawain presents to an interesting twist on the classic type of chivalrous knightly culture and the associated concept of gallantry. This is the first scene in the poem having to do with the Knights of the Round Table, a scene that establishes their credibility. Between lines 460-490, the knights seem almost desperately scared here - as the Green Knight's head comes off, they kick at it to get it away. This is a far cry from the idyllic image of dashing knights in shining armor unfazed by any danger. The knights are characterized as "afraid" when presented with the image of the headless Green Man sitting on his horse.

In conclusion, in the story “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” there are several different angles it can be portrayed as, some of which angles are: through chivalry, and fear. Though Sir Gawain is a very loyal and honorable knight he still faces situations that bring such feelings that knights are not necessarily suppose to feel, so although most knights are portrayed as strong and fearless it just goes to show that everyone has fear inside them when put in situation not ideal to them.

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